About that poor, patriotic anthem…


Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.

Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse. But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not just a musical atrocity, it’s an intellectual and moral one, too:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during theWar of 1812. But we don’t ever talk about how the War of 1812 was a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.

As with most colonial relics, they are aggressive, immoral paeans to bigotry, hatred, fear, and murder. I have little use for the concept of patriotism, and even less for mindless jingoism, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would stand to honour this utter shit, this disregard for any life which was not that of the conquering white man. I might be able to spare some spit.

The Intercept has the full, very interesting story of this blood-soaked anthem to murder and slavery.


  1. Siobhan says

    Gotta love that whole “the anthem isn’t racist! We don’t sing the x verse!” argument.

    So why don’t you sing x verse?

    Oh, right.


  2. Ice Swimmer says

    Perhaps a better anthem that would honestly be for “Freedom and Justice for All” could be the national anthem. Maybe even a song that one can sing correctly without extensive vocal training or exceptional musical talents.

    I know, impossible.

  3. says

    Ice Swimmer:

    I know, impossible.

    It actually is, because this is not, in any way, a land of the free. This is why people in this country aggressively claw, gouge, trample, and often cheat their way up that great ol’ American ladder, because everyone knows that American freedom only applies to a small subset of people.

  4. cubist says

    I prefer the original lyrics, which are an 18th-Century paean to getting drunk and partying on. The title is To Anacreon in Heaven

    To Anacreon in heaven, where he sat in full glee
    A few sons of harmony sent a petition
    That he their inspirer and patron will be
    When this answer came back from the jolly old Grecian:
    “Voice, fiddle, and flute, no longer be mute
    “I’ll lend you my name, and inspire you to boot.
    “And besides, I’ll instruct you, like me, to entwine
    “The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’ vine!”

  5. says


    I prefer the original lyrics,

    Yes, that would be much better, and considering that Key “borrowed” the music, why not have the words?

  6. Crimson Clupeidae says

    There was a video that went ‘viral’ about 8 years ago of some old white guy singing the whole national anthem at a teabagger rally (dontcha know).

    I remember hearing the lyrics of the rest of the verses and thinking, “why the fuck is this atrocity our anthem?”

    Because it’s so accurate…..

  7. says

    Kinda like the German national anthem where we also only use the third verse out of sheer embarrassment about the “enlightened” stance of our national heroes.
    First one is the infamous “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”. Second one celebrates German faithfulness, women, wine and song.
    In school our teacher insisted we write all three into our exercise books, learn them and circle the third one which is the national anthem. I refused and only wrote the last one. I was not going to participate in the celebration of women as things and in blunt nationalism. I wrote a two page explanation why I wouldn’t do it so he couldn’t say I was just refusing to do my work. And of course he didn’t press the issue because he full well knew that he wouldn’t look good if he forced me to write and learn that crap.

  8. Ice Swimmer says

    The U.S. and German anthems aren’t the only ones with components of drinking songs. The Finnish national anthem (Maamme/Vårt land, Our country, a fairly peaceful song) is reminiscent of the German sexist drinking song Papst und Sultan (Pope and Sultan). The composer, Pacius, was originally German and came to Finland to be the Music Teacher in the University.

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